Often overlooked in discussions about the testing process is the need for positive patient identification. Incorrect patient identification is considered among the most dangerous sources of pre-analytical error. Quite frankly, the remainder of this course becomes meaningless, as does the entire analytical process and post-analytical process, without a 100% assurance of the correct identity of the patient.
Hospitals and outpatient clinic facilities are required to implement procedures to help ensure positive patient identification, and maintaining compliance with these procedures is essential. A positive identification involves the use of at least two unique identifiers. Examples of acceptable identifiers include the full name of the patient and date of birth or a unique number, such as a hospital number or medical record number.
A hospital room number or location is NOT an acceptable identifier and cannot be used as one of the two identifiers, as this number is not necessarily unique to the patient.
Always check your organization’s policies and procedures for specific requirements.